Influential Women in Philosophy From the Last 10 Years

Influential Women in Philosophy From the Last 10 Years

Our list of women in philosophy features famous philosophers who have been highly cited and searched online over the last 10 years. This inspirational list includes academics and professionals interested in ethics, feminist theory, critical race theory, and even animal philosophy.

Top 10 Women in Philosophy From the Last 10 Years

  1. Nancy Fraser
  2. Martha Nussbaum
  3. Carol Gilligan
  4. Donna Haraway
  5. Sally Haslanger
  6. Pamela Sue Anderson
  7. Kate Manne
  8. Julia Kristeva
  9. Nel Noddings
  10. Elisa Aaltola

According to the Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, philosophy is a reasoned pursuit of fundamental truths, a quest for understanding, a study of principles of conduct… Philosophy develops the capacity to see the world from the perspective of other individuals and other cultures. Women philosophers are raising new questions and offering new perspectives in ethics, social and political philosophy, philosophy of mind, and feminist philosophy. The field of feminist philosophy is aimed at understanding and challenging the oppression of women…Feminist philosophers question the structures and institutions that regulate our lives.

Contributions by current scholars include feminist critiques of liberalism (Nussbaum), the intersection of information technology and feminist theory (Haraway), philosophy of religion (Anderson), virtue ethics (Nussbaum, Foot), and the use and misuse of language in relation to women (Irigaray).

App. 23.68% of philosophy professors are women.

Pioneering Women Philosophers in History

  1. Hannah Arendt published three important works (The Origins of Totalitarianism, The Human Condition, and On Revolution) in the 1950′s that still influence political philosophers today, providing insights about the modern predisposition to totalitarianism and threats to human freedom posed by both scientific abstraction and bourgeois morality.
  2. Joyce Mitchell Cook first Black woman to graduate from a professional philosophy program in the United States (Bryn Mawr College, 1955), she was also the first to receive a PhD in philosophy (Yale University, 1965). She later taught at Howard University, served as editor of a prominent philosophy journal, and became a White House presidential speechwriter for Jimmy Carter.
  3. Philippa Foot was one of the founders of contemporary virtue ethics and is credited with inventing the thought experiment known as the trolley problem.
  4. Ruth Barcan Marcus , a logician, developed the first formal systems of quantified modal logic. She is considered one of the most important academic philosophers/logicians of the 20th century.
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Key Associations for Women Philosophers

  1. The International Association of Women Philosophers: The International Association of Women Philosophers is “a professional association and network that provides a forum for discussion, interaction and cooperation among women engaged in teaching and research in all aspects of philosophy, with a particular emphasis on feminist philosophy.”
  2. The Society for Women in Philosophy: SWIP was started in 1972 to support and promote women in philosophy.
  3. APA Committee on the Status of Women: This committee assesses and reports on the status of women in the profession.
  4. Society for Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy: SPEP Committee on the Status for Women of the Society for Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy was established in 1984 to increase the participation of women in SPEP.
  5. Women in Philosophy Task Force: WPHTF is “an umbrella group that works to coordinate initiatives and intensify efforts to advance women in philosophy.”
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Influential Women in Philosophy From the Last 10 Years

  1. #1

    Nancy Fraser

    1947 - Present (75 years)

    Nancy Fraser is a critic of contemporary liberal feminism and identity politics. She is the Henry A. and Louise Loeb Professor of Political and Social Science and professor of philosophy at The New School. She earned her B.A. in philosophy from Bryn Mawr and her Ph.D in philosophy from the City University of New York Graduate Center.

    Her work on the conceptions of justice and injustice have led her to the conclusion that justice can be viewed in two ways: distributive justice (related to equitable distribution of resources), and justice of recognition (related to recognition of identity). Likewise, injustice can be viewed as either maldistribution or misrecognition. In her view, society's recent preoccupation with the injustice of misrecognition has diverted attention and resources from the ongoing problems of maldistribution.

    Fraser has been International Research Chair in Social Justice for Collège d'études mondiales in Paris, a visiting professor in women's rights for University of Cambridge and Senior fellow for the Center for Advanced Studies, "Justitia Amplificata," in Frankfurt. She is president of the American Philosophical Association's Eastern Division. In 2018, she was honored with the Nessim Habif World Prize by The Graduate Institute, the Award for Lifetime Contribution to Critical Scholarship by the Havens Center for Social Justice at the University of Wisconsin, and the Chevalier de la Legion d'honneur.

  2. #2

    Martha Nussbaum

    1947 - Present (75 years)

    Currently, Martha Nussbaum holds the position of Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics at the University of Chicago. Too influential to be confined to one department, Nussbaum is appointed to the faculty of both the philosophy department and the law school. As an undergraduate, Nussbaum spent two years at Wellesley College, before deciding to pursue theatre studies at New York University. After, Nussbaum completed her graduate studies and PhD at Harvard University.

    With roots in ancient philosophy and classics, Nussbaum is a significantly influential voice of feminism and liberalism. Her work draws on Aristotelianism and ancient Greek tragedy to investigate contemporary feminist theory and issues. Nussbaum also investigates the philosophy of emotion, often finding overlap between these realms, such as tying justice and ethics to questions about human flourishing. In her books Hiding from Humanity and From Disgust to Humanity, Nussbaum examined the role of shame and disgust in legal judgements and law, arguing that these notions cannot be the basis of truly just law. Similarly, in Sex and Social Justice, Nussbaum provided a feminist critique of liberalism, building on the notion of objectification, to show how sex and gender can be and is used as a tool of oppression, particularly of marginalized groups.

  3. #3

    Carol Gilligan

    1936 - Present (86 years)
    Carol Gilligan is an American feminist, ethicist, and psychologist best known for her work on ethical community and ethical relationships. Gilligan is a professor of Humanities and Applied Psychology at New York University and was a visiting professor at the Centre for Gender Studies and Jesus College at the University of Cambridge until 2009. She is known for her book In a Different Voice , which criticized Lawrence Kohlberg’s stages of moral development.
  4. #4

    Donna Haraway

    1944 - Present (78 years)
    Donna J. Haraway is an American Professor Emerita in the History of Consciousness Department and Feminist Studies Department at the University of California, Santa Cruz, United States. She is a prominent scholar in the field of science and technology studies, described in the early 1990s as a “feminist and postmodernist”. Haraway is the author of numerous foundational books and essays that bring together questions of science and feminism, such as “A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century” and “Situated Knowledges: The Science Question in F...
  5. #5

    Sally Haslanger

    1955 - Present (67 years)

    Sally Haslanger, currently appointed the Ford Professor of Philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), completed her undergraduate education at Reed College in 1977, and earned her PhD in philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley in 1985. Currently one of the most influential people in philosophy, Haslanger has previously held appointments in the Ivy league, at Princeton University and at the University of Pennsylvania.

    Haslanger's work and influence are broad. Starting her career in the areas of analytic metaphysics and epistemology, Haslanger has since built on ancient philosophy foundations to create notable work in the realms of social and political philosophy. Haslanger is perhaps best known for her work in feminist theory and critical race theory, applying ancient and metaphysical principles (such as Aristotle's hylomorphic theory) to these relatively modern areas of inquiry, especially in regards to the notion of social construction. On that topic, Haslanger has been a formidable voice, publishing groundbreaking pieces investigating and analyzing social categories that are traditionally seen as universal and unquestionable. Haslanger's work is perhaps best represented in the book Resisting Reality: Social Construction and Social Critique, which collects two decades of her papers, covering and connecting topics including epistemology, metaphysics, and social and gender issues.

  6. #6

    Pamela Sue Anderson

    1955 - 2017 (62 years)
    Pamela Sue Anderson was an American philosopher who specialized in philosophy of religion, feminist philosophy and continental philosophy. In 2007 she was an Official Fellow, Tutor in Philosophy and Christian Ethics, Dean, and Women’s Advisor of Regent’s Park College in the University of Oxford. Her former students include feminist philosopher Hanneke Canters.
  7. #7

    Kate Manne

    1983 - Present (39 years)
    Kate Manne is an Australian philosopher, associate professor of philosophy at Cornell University, and author. Her work is primarily in feminist philosophy, moral philosophy and social philosophy. Education and career As an undergraduate, Manne studied philosophy, logic, and computer science, at the University of Melbourne , earning a BA in philosophy. She received her PhD in philosophy from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology . From 2011 to 2013, Manne was a junior fellow at the Harvard Society of Fellows. Since 2013, she has been at the Sage School of Philosophy, Cornell University, wh...
  8. #8

    Julia Kristeva

    1941 - Present (81 years)
    Julia Kristeva is a Bulgarian-French philosopher, literary critic, semiotician, psychoanalyst, feminist, and, most recently, novelist, who has lived in France since the mid-1960s. She is now a professor emerita at the University Paris Diderot. The author of more than 30 books, including Powers of Horror, Tales of Love, Black Sun: Depression and Melancholia, Proust and the Sense of Time, and the trilogy Female Genius, she has been awarded Commander of the Legion of Honor, Commander of the Order of Merit, the Holberg International Memorial Prize, the Hannah Arendt Prize, and the Vision 97 F...
  9. #9

    Nel Noddings

    1929 - Present (93 years)
    Nel Noddings is an American feminist, educator, and philosopher best known for her work in philosophy of education, educational theory, and ethics of care. Biography Noddings received a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and physical science from Montclair State College in New Jersey, a master’s degree in mathematics from Rutgers University, and a Ph.D. in education from the Stanford Graduate School of Education.
  10. #10

    Elisa Aaltola

    1976 - Present (46 years)
    Elisa Aaltola is a Finnish philosopher, specialised in animal philosophy, moral psychology and environmental philosophy. She was a visiting PhD student at the Institute for Ethics, Environment, and Public Policy at Lancaster University and submitted her doctoral thesis to the University of Turku on Animal Individuality: Moral and Cultural Categorisations. Her book Eläinten moraalinen arvo is considered the first commercially published Finnish monograph dedicated solely to animal ethics. She is also the author of Animal Suffering: Philosophy and Culture and Varieties of Empathy: Moral Psycho...
  11. #11

    Luce Irigaray

    1930 - Present (92 years)
    Luce Irigaray is a Belgian-born French feminist, philosopher, linguist, psycholinguist, psychoanalyst and cultural theorist who examined the uses and misuses of language in relation to women. Irigaray’s first and most well known book, published in 1974, was Speculum of the Other Woman , which analyzes the texts of Freud, Hegel, Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, and Kant through the lens of phallocentrism. Irigaray is the author of works analyzing many thinkers, including This Sex Which Is Not One , which discusses Lacan’s work as well as political economy; Elemental Passions can be read as a resp...
  12. #12

    Susan Neiman

    1955 - Present (67 years)
    Susan Neiman is an American moral philosopher, cultural commentator, and essayist. She has written extensively on the juncture between Enlightenment moral philosophy, metaphysics, and politics, both for scholarly audiences and the general public. She currently lives in Germany, where she is the Director of the Einstein Forum in Potsdam.
  13. #13

    Judith Jarvis Thomson

    1929 - 2020 (91 years)
    Judith Jarvis Thomson was an American philosopher who studied and worked on ethics and metaphysics. She is credited with naming, developing, and initiating the extensive literature on the trolley problem first posed by Philippa Foot. Thomson also published a paper titled “A Defense of Abortion”, which argues that the procedure is morally permissible even if it is assumed that a fetus is a person with a right to life. She was elected a member of the American Philosophical Society in 2019.
  14. #14

    Katerina Kolozova

    1969 - Present (53 years)
    Katerina Kolozova is a Macedonian academic, author and philosopher. She is a director of and professor of gender studies and philosophy at the Institute of Social Sciences and Humanities, Skopje and a professor of the University American College Skopje, both in Skopje, North Macedonia. She has been associated with speculative realism and has written about the non-philosophy of François Laruelle and the works of Karl Marx. She has been a member of the Organisation Non-Philosophique Internationale , with headquarters in Paris, France, since it was founded. She is a board member of The New Centr...
  15. #15

    Linda Martín Alcoff

    1955 - Present (67 years)

    Panama-born Linda Martin Alcoff is currently appointed as a professor of philosophy at Hunter College of the City University of New York. Alcoff earned her bachelor’s degree in philosophy in 1980 at Georgia State University, as well as her MA in 1983, and in 1987 earned her PhD in philosophy at Brown University. In her career, Alcoff has also held positions at Kalamazoo College, Syracuse University, Cornell University, and Brown University, among others.

    Alcoff is best known for her intersectional approach to issues of race, gender, identity, and epistemology. Alcoff identifies location as a major component in both self-identity and how we identify and relate to others. In particular, Alcoff is known for an essay titled “The Problem of Speaking for Others,” in which she analyzed the discourse we use to speak of other people, finding rhetorical (and epistemic) tendencies for domination and mastery. Accordingly, Alcoff has been a vocal advocate of greater recognition and inclusion of marginalized and underrepresented groups in philosophy, allowing these groups to fully and accurately represent and speak for themselves.

  16. #16

    Catherine Malabou

    1959 - Present (63 years)
    Catherine Malabou is a French philosopher. She is a Professor in the Philosophy Department at the Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy at Kingston University, at the European Graduate School, and in the department of Comparative Literature at the University of California Irvine, a position formerly held by Jacques Derrida.
  17. #17

    Sara Danius

    1962 - 2019 (57 years)
    Sara Maria Danius was a Swedish literary critic and philosopher, and a scholar of literature and aesthetics. Danius was professor of aesthetics at Södertörn University, docent of literature at Uppsala University and professor in literary science at Stockholm University.
  18. #18

    Sandra Harding

    1935 - Present (87 years)
    Sandra G. Harding is an American philosopher of feminist and postcolonial theory, epistemology, research methodology, and philosophy of science. She directed the UCLA Center for the Study of Women from 1996 to 2000, and co-edited Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society from 2000 to 2005. She is currently a Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Education and Gender Studies at UCLA and a Distinguished Affiliate Professor of Philosophy at Michigan State University. In 2013 she was awarded the John Desmond Bernal Prize by the Society for the Social Studies of Science .
  19. #19

    Susan Haack

    1945 - Present (77 years)
    Susan Haack is a British philosopher. She is Distinguished Professor in the Humanities, Cooper Senior Scholar in Arts and Sciences, Professor of Philosophy, and Professor of Law at the University of Miami. She has written on logic, the philosophy of language, epistemology, and metaphysics. Her pragmatism follows that of Charles Sanders Peirce.
  20. #20

    Avital Ronell

    1952 - Present (70 years)
    Avital Ronell is an American academic who writes about continental philosophy, literary studies, psychoanalysis, political philosophy, and ethics. She is a professor in the humanities and in the departments of Germanic languages and literature and comparative literature at New York University, where she co-directs the trauma and violence transdisciplinary studies program.
  21. #21

    Christine Korsgaard

    1952 - Present (70 years)
    Christine Marion Korsgaard, is an American philosopher who is the Arthur Kingsley Porter Professor of Philosophy at Harvard University. Her main scholarly interests are in moral philosophy and its history; the relation of issues in moral philosophy to issues in metaphysics, the philosophy of mind, and the theory of personal identity; the theory of personal relationships; and in normativity in general.
  22. #22

    Mary Midgley

    1919 - 2018 (99 years)
    Mary Beatrice Midgley was a British philosopher. A senior lecturer in philosophy at Newcastle University, she was known for her work on science, ethics and animal rights. She wrote her first book, Beast And Man , when she was in her fifties, and went on to write over 15 more, including Animals and Why They Matter , Wickedness , The Ethical Primate , Evolution as a Religion , and Science as Salvation . She was awarded honorary doctorates by Durham and Newcastle universities. Her autobiography, The Owl of Minerva, was published in 2005.
  23. #23

    Frances Kamm

    Frances Myrna Kamm is an American philosopher specializing in normative and applied ethics. Kamm is currently the Henry Rutgers University Professor of Philosophy and Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ. She is also the Littauer Professor of Philosophy and Public Policy Emerita at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, as well as Professor Emerita in the Department of Philosophy at New York University.
  24. #24

    Seyla Benhabib

    1950 - Present (72 years)
    Seyla Benhabib is a Turkish-American philosopher. Seyla Benhabib is a senior research scholar and adjunct professor of law at Columbia Law School. She is also an affiliate faculty member in the Columbia University Department of Philosophy and a senior fellow at the Columbia Center for Contemporary Critical Thought. She was a scholar in residence at the Law School from 2018 to 2019 and was also the James S. Carpentier Visiting Professor of Law in spring 2019. She was the Eugene Mayer Professor of Political Science and Philosophy at Yale University from 2001 to 2020. She was director of the pro...
  25. #25

    Janet Radcliffe Richards

    1944 - Present (78 years)
    Janet Radcliffe Richards is a British philosopher specialising in bioethics and feminism and Professor of Practical Philosophy at the University of Oxford. She is the author of The Sceptical Feminist , Philosophical Problems of Equality , Human Nature after Darwin , and The Ethics of Transplants .
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Top row, left to right: Patricia Hill Collins, Emmanuelle Charpentier, Malala Yousafzai, Shafi Goldwasser, Jennifer Doudna, Fabiola Gianotti, Michiko Kakutani, Lauren Underwood.

Bottom row, left to right: Fei-Fei Li, Esther Duflo, Kathy Reichs, Nancy Fraser, Brené Brown, Judith Curry, Jill Lepore, Zaha Hadid.